The recall of meat distributed by Cargill subsidiary Emmpak Foods has been expanded to a further 2.3 million pounds of beef sold nationwide.

Earlier this week the company initiated a recall of 416,000 pounds of meat on fears it may be linked to an E. coli outbreak that has sickened more than 40 people across three US states. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday [Thursday] said that possible E. coli bacteria had been identified in additional ground beef produced on a separate line by Emmpak, company spokesman Mark Klein revealed.

The Milwaukee grinding plant at the centre of the recall has been temporarily closed.

The recall was initiated after food safety inspectors reviewed plant practices and company records at Emmpak, which does business as Peck Meats.

“I strongly encourage consumers of ground beef to check their refrigerators and freezers for the recalled product,” Garry L. McKee, administrator for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said in a statement.